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Chicago: Regnery Gateway, Translated by Arrigo Munari. Milan: Rusconi, Munich: R. Italian translation: Anamnesis: Teoria della Storia e della Politica. Translated by Carlo Amirante.

English translation: Anamnesis. Eric O'Conner, S. Transcripts of four lectures and discussions, Montreal: Thomas More Institute Press. Translated by Ruth Hein.

Translation by Gerhard Niemeyer as revised and with additional translation by M. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, Hollweck and Paul Caringella. Hollweck, and William Petropulos. Edited with an introduction by Thomas A. Edited with an introduction by William Petropulos and Gilbert Weiss. Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, Calif. Edited with an introduction by William Petropulos and Gilbert Weiss, pp. See also Published Essays , edited with an introduction by Ellis Sandoz. Translated by Peter Emberley and Barry Cooper.

Piper, Review of Politics 15 : See also Published Essays , edited with an introduction by Ellis Sandoz, pp.

Albert Hunold ed. Erlenbach-Zurich and Stuttgart: Rentsch, pp. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, Edited with an introduction by Edward T. Gargan, pp. Chicago, Illinois: Loyola University Press, Geburtstag , edited with an introduction by Erich Dinkler, pp. Tuebingen: J. Mohr Paul Siebeck. Hantsch, F. Valsecchi and Eric Voegelin, pp. Vienna, Freiburg, Basel: Herder. Opitz and Gregor Sebba, pp. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, Munich: Piper. III, pp. See also Published Essays , edited with an introduction by Ellis Sandoz, pp Notes, outline, typescript, clippings.

Hollweck and Paul Caringella, pp. Florence: Vallecchi. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. It would seem absurd to attempt to locate it in the lower elements that humans share with other forms of nature rather than in that which is distinctly human—namely reason. The meaning of our life is not that we contain inorganic matter, or that we process food and grow, or that we have desires and locomotion like other animals.

It has rather something to do with reason. But what?

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Voegelin, following Aristotle, went on to analyze the structure of reason itself, noticing that it too has lower and higher functions. But here a problem arises. This was in fact a serious predicament with modernity itself, which Voegelin along with Michael Oakeshott and Hannah Arendt criticized: reason had been reduced to instrumental reason alone. It is rather the capacity humans have to make astounding intuitive leaps into the order and causes of things. From the experience of a few instances of a kind, humans have the ability to intuit the common essence that binds the instances together.

Order and History Volume 4 The Ecumenic Age Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Volume 17

The truth is that the power to make such leaps is quite mysterious, and the ancients regarded it as such. But its powers are hardly exhausted in perceiving the ordered structure of such mundane things as grain. Its powers are rather most impressively employed in perceiving the structure of intelligible Being at its heights. And though humans cannot fully reach or possess that ground for which we long, we can in the very search for it partake of, or participate in, it.

This leads Voegelin to a pivotal insight with respect to ideologies. But the vexations of openness do not justify the willful act of closure, which has to be artificial in order to occur at all. It can take several forms. Something like this is a recurring pattern in religious fundamentalism of various types.

Publisher Series: Collected Works of Eric Voegelin

Another form of closure is to deny the existence of God altogether—to embrace atheism. And yet another is to locate the meaning of life in one of the lower functions of Being e. This is the way of thinkers who posit that we are nothing but matter and motion, or that we are just beasts, apes with highly developed minds. The strain of living the life of openness towards a divine ground that is all-important but not fully knowable seemed to Voegelin the key to understanding ideologies. Ideologies offer answers not to just any questions, but rather to the most fundamental questions of human life: what are we, what is our purpose, how can we arrive at a destination more comfortable than the condition in which we presently find ourselves?

Eric Voegelin’s Critique of Ideology | Voegelin Principles

But the ultimate goals of these motions the poles are not actually in human reach. And this enabled him to formulate some basic rules to resist ideological temptations. Human nature participates in all levels of the grid from top to bottom. We are neither spiritless animals nor immaterial spirits, but rather, permanently, all levels at once. The poles transcend the metaxy.


The human condition does not include release from the human condition. Man experiences the meaning of life in three different domains: in his individual person, in his society and in his sense of history. But these three domains do not share the same status. Man does not become more or less divine as he enters into society, nor as he moves through history. Such are the limits of the human condition. Voegelin supplied arresting historical examples of both types of imbalance. According to Voegelin, the error was classic. From the spiritual insight that God wants Israel to survive, Isaiah inferred that nothing further need be known or done than to trust in God.

The second type of imbalance was epitomized for Voegelin by the figure of Prometheus, the Titan who revolted against the Olympian gods in the interest of mankind. The core of this psychic disease is hubris, Voegelin thought: the rejection of the true divine and the substitution of oneself in its role. Voegelin documented myriad instances of this across human history from Israel to Greece to Rome. Philosophy makes no secret of it. There shall be none beside it.

The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin

Was it a direct line of historical influence or a mere family resemblance? Were modern ideologues the direct heirs of various ancient schools of thought, or were they rather reenacting afresh certain psychological tendencies that are a permanent feature of the human landscape?

Such questions will be addressed below, but the point to stress here is that human experience of divine transcendence, on the one hand, and the real limits of the human condition, on the other, give rise to a variety of possible responses. The others are forms of escape or revolt. This framework seemed to Voegelin pregnant with possibilities as a tool for understanding modern ideological mass movements. Ideologists seem to be suffering from an imbalance of some kind.

But here a problem arose, for the imbalanced moods that Voegelin noticed go back in history to some of the earliest written records. The answer is that it could not, unless it were considered in a more dynamic way. Historically, Voegelin attributed the rise of modern ideologies to three pivotal events, none of which, alone, would have been sufficient. They are, in chronological order of impact, a the advent of Christianity, b the decline of Christianity as an imperial power in the West after the Reformation, and c the rise of modern scientism.

It was so for two reasons: first, because it pushed the causes of modern ideology further back in time than other analysts had done; and second, because it located the true roots of ideology not in the economic or political domain, as was typical, but in the spiritual domain. The reason is twofold. First, the form of redemption offered by Christ raised questions and posed problems for those who followed him. Christianity emerged as a Jewish messianic movement, but the Jewish expectation was that God would redeem the world in history. Such uncertainty was difficult enough, but the eventual position adopted by the church posed its own challenges for people unaccustomed to thinking of redemption in such terms.

John as a throwback to Jewish apocalyptic and pointed to certain fateful consequences of its inclusion in the canon.